In the aftermath of the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, things were as good as they’ve been in years between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. All good things, however, come to an end.
For a source with knowledge of the situation, the Deshaun Watson case has driven a greater wedge between league and union. The relationship has soured, significantly, because of the NFL’s decision to appeal the ruling entered four days ago by the jointly-hired disciplinary officer under the Personal Conduct Policy, retired federal judge Sue L. Robinson.
The union shouldn’t be surprised that it’s gone this way. The 2020 CBA changed the disciplinary procedure, but it allowed the league to retain full authority over the appeal process. Did the union actually think the league would choose not to exercise the power for which it bargained?
Beyond the potential consequences of failing to be sufficiently stringent with players who violate the rights of women, the NFL generally isn’t in the practice of sacrificing its power. It’s exercising its power as a reminder that: (1) it has the power; and (2) if the union wants to change the situation, there’s a way to do it — by giving up something else in exchange for it.
Bottom line? The NFLPA let the league keep control over the appeal process. It would be foolish for the union to think the league was just going to voluntarily throw it away — especially in a case like this one.